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21 June 2011

Gambling In Australia Red Hot, by Greg Tingle - 21st June 2011


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Australian gambling continues to be red hot. We've got political fun and games, sin tax, a Sin City game, the rock and pop culture gambling connection, casino developments, revamps, new games and more. Media Man and Gambling911 with the latest and greatest from down under...

Mr X And Friends Wants Vic Gvt To Lift Game On Pokies Laws...

The government is rumoured to be looking at taking a legal beating for allegedly failing to uphold its obligations to foster responsible gambling and protect children from being exposed to betting. Anti-pokie campaigners Senator Nick Xenophon, Tim Costello and Paul Bendat have approached Gaming Minister Michael O'Brien and Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation chairman Bruce Thompson, threatening to sue the government unless it fixes 8 alleged breaches of the Gambling Regulation Act. The letter says: "This letter constitutes notice to remedy practices at poker machine venues in Victoria which appear to be contrary to the obligations under the Gambling Regulation Act 2003." The three sections of the act they alleged are being breached are: to foster responsible gambling to minimise harm caused by problem gambling; to ensure minors are not encouraged to gamble or do so; and to ensure gaming on pokies is conducted honestly. The letter asks for a response in 14 days. Senator Xenophon said the group was planning legal action if the government failed to clean up its regulation. Areas the group says breach the act include:

Unrestricted pokies at Crown Casino. Under Victorian law, Crown has permission to operate some pokies that have no spin rate restrictions or a maximum bet limit. Pokies outside of the Casino have a $5 maximum bet limit.' Losses disguised as wins on pokies. Sounds and animation show a winning scenario when betting on multiple spins when the punter has had a loss. The ''take win'' button on pokies that places winnings back into the credit bank rather than the punter collecting the cash. Failure to enforce venues properly displaying safe gambling advertisements on every pokie machine. Exposure of children to gambling in pubs and clubs.

Senator Xenophon aka "Mr X" said: "Successive Victorian governments have had blinkers on for a long time. The blinkers have been made from the billion dollar a year rivers of gold in pokies taxes." Gambling expert and academic Dr Charles Livingstone advised losses disguised as wins exacerbated the risk of addictive gambling because of exposure to positive reinforcement. When you get a win, the machines go into overdrive and give you a re-enforcement with bells when in fact you've had a loss." Unrestricted one armed bandit playing at Crown was also dangerous for problem gamblers, he said. "We know that problem gamblers chase losses. If you want to guarantee you are going to lose lots of money real fast, playing an unrestricted machine is a damned good way to do it." Gaming Minister Michael O'Brien advised responsibility for ensuring compliance with the Gambling Regulation Act rested with the independent Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation, which would be responding "in due course". "However, Senator Xenophon should know that assertions are not the same as evidence …," O'Brien said.

Vic Pokies Reform Update...

Loca councils are at logger heads with the state government over shut-down periods and $1 bet limits on poker machines. The Municipal Association of Victoria made a resolution at the last state council meeting to lobby for $1-a-push bet limits, extended shut down periods for gaming machines and extended regional caps. The Joint Select Committee on Gambling Reform made similar recommendations to the federal government last month. But Victorian Gaming Minister Michael O’Brien said the state government would not implement any of the proposals in the resolution. Currently a $5 bet limit applies to all gaming machines in Victoria except those at Crown Casino, which have a $10 bet limit. Mr O’Brien said bet limits in Victoria were the equal lowest in Australia and the government had "no current plans to adjust bet limits or shut-down periods”. He also told the press the government would maintain existing regional caps and spend $150 million to set up the new independent Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation. MAV President Bill Macarthur said local government had an important advocacy role on gambling regulation. "Gambling affects the local community so local government has been involved in the community debate for quite some time," he said. Whittlesea Responsible Gaming Forum chairman, Councillor Sam Alessi said the council unanimously endorsed a similar motion months ago to advocate for the government to restrict access to gaming machines. "These proposals would make a big difference in giving people a chance to have a break and think about what they’re doing, which is very important for problem gamblers," Cr Alessi said. Cr Alessi said many of the issues raised in the Whittlesea Responsible Gaming Forum charter had now been implemented. "Not only do I think local government can make a difference, it’s been proven that we can."

New Gambling Laws In Australia May Rise Stock Of Gambling Firms...

Australians are the world’s biggest gamblers, with the size of the problem prompting a push toward tighter regulation of the sector, although analysts say new laws could provide a boost to some gaming stocks. A report by global gaming-industry consultants H2 Gambling Capital released last month found Australians had the highest annual gambling losses in the world, at nearly 1,300 Australian dollars ($1,377) per resident. The Productivity Commission, the governments’ key advisor on economic and social-policy issues, calculated Australia’s total gambling losses at $19 billion, in 2008-2009. Policy makers are pushing to ease Australia’s gambling addiction by targeting slot-machine and online betters, creating regulatory uncertainty — but also investment opportunity — in the gaming sector. Australia’s minority Labor government was elected late last year, with its mandate hinged on the support of several key independents. One of those independents is Andrew Wilkie, who pledged his support for the government only if, among other things, action was taken to clean up problem gambling. Wilkie’s central target are slot-machines — known as pokies in Australia — manufactured primarily by Aristocrat Leisure Ltd. “Australia has almost 200,000 poker [slot] machines, which are among the most dangerous in the world,’’ Wilkie said. “People routinely lose A$1,200 an hour gambling on pokies in Australia because they’re high-intensity machines with high bet limits, fast games, big jackpots and substantial cash load-up capacity,” he said. The Productivity Commission recommended that mandatory pre-commitment levels be set on poker machines, which lock gamblers out once they reach their pre-set limit. Last month, the government said it supports a full pre-commitment scheme starting in 2014, with some exemptions for venues operating 15 or less poker machines. But the laws aren’t yet set in stone. The federal government must negotiate with states, who rely on poker-machine revenues, as well as combat a powerful club and hotel lobby, and secure the support of other key independents, to enforce a pre-commitment scheme. Credit Suisse said the pre-commitment system “is not positive for gaming manufacturers like Aristocrat, but it might not be all that bad.” The analysts said the pre-commitment system proposal heightens customer uncertainty, which is “likely to dampen capital expenditure,” while the harmonization of gaming standards across Australia could reduce costs for gaming manufacturers. Peter Esho, chief market analyst at City Index, agrees mandated pre-commitment technology may present an opportunity for Aristocrat. “Machines have a lifecycle and need to be upgraded every few years anyway. If the government passes legislation on new features that machines have to have, Aristocrat may come to the market with machines that adhere to the regulatory changes,” Esho said. Casino operators are also exposed to tougher poker-machine regulation. and Echo Entertainment Ltd. are the main players in this space. Crown owns casino, resorts and gaming interests. Tabcorp Holdings Ltd. Tabcorp recently de-merged its casino and wagering businesses, creating Echo Entertainment as its casino-arm. Tabcorp retains the wagering, gaming and keno businesses. For Crown and Echo, City Index’s Esho said the growth strategy hinges on “Chinese millionaires,” and as such, the impact of any poker-machine reforms is muted. “Echo and Crown are all about repositioning themselves to try to tap into the Asian high-roller travelers that are going to Macau and Singapore, and drawing them in,” Esho said. “The high-rollers that fly in from overseas — that you make a lot of money from — are more table-clients. The bigger issue for them is getting the clients in,” he said. Meantime, a separate government inquiry is underway into online gambling, which includes interactive and live-odds sports betting, and online poker. Online casinos will also be targeted amid concerns that Australia’s are increasingly gambling with unregulated Internet companies. Esho said moves by the government to tighten regulation around online betting endorses how successful this industry has become. “Sports online betting is a part of the market that has really grown. It’s scalable, it has been really successful due to mobility, people can place a bet from their computer or their phone,” Esho said. London-listed Sportingbet is in the process of acquiring Centrebet International Ltd in a bid to increase its share of Australia’s corporate bookmaking market. “For operators, [the crackdown] is inconvenient, but they are growing a lot. While broadcasting live-odds is not on, operators might look at different ways of targeting people online,” Esho said. With government attacks on slot machines and online gambling, Esho said Tabcorp is shaping up as the biggest loser in the sector. “Tabcorp is going to be the most affected. It has gaming and wagering. Gaming is going to be inconvenienced by the new poker-machine restrictions, while wagering is going to be inconvenienced by broadcasting restrictions (on online betting),” he said. “The sole sports guys, like Centrebet and Sportingbet, are growing so quickly that they may have to change the way they do things, but it’s not going to stop their growth,” Esho said. For Abeerdeen Asset Management, Tatts Group Ltd. which operates gaming, lotteries and wagering business — is the pick the gaming sector. Aberdeen investment manager Andrew Preston said the stocks’ appeal comes from stable lotteries revenues, limited capital-expenditure requirements and potential upside in upcoming lotteries and wagering licences. “The wagering licences that Tatts have are longer than the ones that Tabcorp has. These are very long-term, stable businesses. The underlying lotteries business offers a very stable source of income, and that has proven to be very resilient,” he said. “Tatts is not a company that goes up and down with the mining boom, but people always tend a buy a [lottery] ticket in the relatively tough times as well as the good times,” Preston said.

Gold Coast: Jupiter's Hotel And Casino; Storeman To Stand Trial On Food Scam...

A former Jupiters Casino storeman will stand trial over allegations he defrauded his employer of millions in a food ordering scam. William Partridge, 51, is charged with two counts of fraud between 1993 and 2001. During the 30-day committal in the Southport Magistrates Court police alleged he had deceived the casino by signing faked supplier invoices for phantom food products. They alleged false food purchase orders were signed off by Partridge but the phantom pallets of meat, seafood, condiments and fruit were never delivered to the casino. Partridge yesterday conceded there was a prima facie case against him and magistrate Michael O'Driscoll committed him for trial in the Gold Coast District Court at a date to be set. Another former casino employee will face committal proceedings on Monday. It's unknown if the former storeman also gambled on games at the casino, but its fair to say that his game is up.

Gold Coast: Jupiter's Hotel And Casino; More Generous Than Dangerous?...

Some folks voted for them as "World's Most Dangerous Casino", but are they also the most generous? We've learned that a couple of weeks back the Jetstar Gold Coast Titans helped raise $170,000 for some great causes at the 6th annual Charity Ball at Jupiters Hotel and Casino. Making the most of the bye weekend, the club turned its attention from football to raising money for charity - with the Grantham Flood Support group, Project Preston and the Titans Community Foundation all beneficiaries of the money raised. Headline acts, the two Audi A1s which were generously donated by club sponsors Gold Coast Audi Centre, lived up to their name after being snapped up for $36,500 (Reeve Kruck) and $36,000 (Wayne and Clare Kirby) respectively. Another highlight of the night was a performance by crowd favourite Preston Campbell on a didgeridoo he had personally hand painted in the lead-up to the event. It later auction for a cool $6000.

Australian Rock Legends Tour US: Win Tickets To INXS At Casino New Brunswick - Moncton - 7th July...

Aussie rock band INXS decided to take a risk with its newest album. For Original Sin, the band took some of its most beloved tracks and turned them completely on their ear - revamping the melodies, inviting guest vocalists to jam on different tracks, and replacing 1980s-style arrangements with a more modern approach. The collection, which features guest appearances by blues-rocker Ben Harper, Train singer Pat Monahan, pop-rock superstar John Mayer, and singer-songwriter Rob Thomas, is helping to introduce the band to a new generation of fans, rejuvenating such monster hits as New Sensation, Never Tear Us Apart, Kick and the title track. It was a huge gamble for a band that's still played prominently on rock radio stations around the world. But INXS has always been confident in the group's musical abilities, as evidenced by their survival following the premature death of charismatic frontman Michael Hutchence and by their participation in the reality television show, Rock Star: INXS, which helped them select the group's next vocalist: Nova Scotia-born singer-songwriter JD Fortune. Kirk Pengilly, who plays guitar and sax with the group, said Fortune will serve as the band's singer on this tour, even though the group and Fortune experienced an awkward misunderstanding in the past. For a time Fortune thought he his services were no longer needed, but Pengilly said Fortune is a part of the band, the group has resolved all of its issues, and is now focusing on making the upcoming world tour a massive success, noting that Fortune sang on two tracks from Original Sin. They'll perform at Casino New Brunswick in Moncton on July 7 and Pengilly said the group is looking forward to returning to Canada. "Canada was the first country, really, outside of Australia that really took to the band," he said. "We have a long history and Canadians are a lot like Australians, what with the commonwealth background and the love of beer and their sense of humour. I think there's also that frontier kind of vibe - a large land-mass with a relatively small population. We've always felt really comfortable during our time in Canada." He said he's hoping New Brunswick music fans enjoy the new material, explaining that it was a special project for the band. "It was a hugely different album and approach, really," he said. "We were pulling apart some of our favourite songs from the past, putting them back together in different ways and then looking at singers we could use. "Once the ball got rolling, we had singers lining up, coming to us, looking to do it. So it was a really amazing process and kind of a cathartic process in a way." Want to win tickets to the show? Send an email to with the following information: your name, your daytime phone number, your email address, and your favourite INXS song. The draw will be made on June 29 and announce the winner in the June 30th edition of City Live. Two tickets will be set aside in the winner's name at the Casino New Brunswick's will-call booth on the night of the show.

Rose Tattoo Slot At Pokie Palace; Angry Anderson Still Can't Be Beaten...

Angry Anderson loves to scream out We Can’t Be Beaten, but his own branded Rose Tatto pokie keeps screaming the same sentiments. It was a $50,000 deal between Rose Tattoo and Aristocrat. Mr Anderson is understood to be very happy with the way that things are progressing and its believed he think the news did a bit of a media "beat up" on him for doing the pokie business deal. "Mr X" (satire), the anti gambling campaigner said "Putting his name on a poker machine is quite different to endorsing a T-shirt or a soft drink". "Angry should have stuck to helping disadvantaged people. "Now he is helping people to become disadvantaged." Anderson didn't comment yesterday. He also raises money for charity through the Variety Club Bash. The Rose Tattoo manager at the time of the deal, Stephen White, said having their image on a poker machine "has nothing to do with a personal opinion on the gambling industry". "This is just a business thing," he said. "There's no way he Mr Anderson can be perceived as condoning gambling." Mr White confirmed that the band received "less than $50,000" for the licensing deal and said there were no plans for it to go to charity. The marketing blurb reads...Rose Tattoo is Reel Rock ‘n’ Roll. The Rose Tattoo Double Standalone progressive is Aristocrat’s first fully themed licensed multi-game; complete with 2 exclusive base games, 4 denoms, 3 bonus features and explosive sound. The unmistakable Aussie rock sound of Rose Tattoo has been combined with 2 themed games to create a product that unites 3 licensed iconic rock songs, custom-made footage of Angry Anderson and personalized symbols to deliver a Reel rock ‘n’ Roll experience for players. Rose Tattoo multi-game is guaranteed to rock your venue!

Frank Miller's Sin City Comes To The World's Largest Online Casino; Cult Classic Comic Turned Into Slot Game...

Gibraltar - 17th June 2011 - Following up on last week’s release of Frank Miller’s Sin City: The Hard Goodbye at Digital DarkHorse comes more exciting news around this legendary title. Sin City has now entered the online gaming world, with a new game at This new five-reel, fifty-line slot features art and story from the widely acclaimed series by comics legend Frank Miller. When Sin City originally appeared in Dark Horse Presents: Fifth Anniversary Special in April 1991, it was clear that the face of the comics medium had changed forever. Since that time, Miller’s groundbreaking comics noir has found its way into the public consciousness with toys, games, and even a feature-length motion picture. Frank Miller’s Sin City remains one of the most stylized works in the history of the medium, drawing heavily from film noir, including its use of shadow and stark backgrounds. The black-and-white comic was perfectly suited to the original format of Dark Horse’s flagship anthology, with occasional spot usage of primary colors added to later volumes and editions. "Frank Miller’s Sin City is a very different slot to any other we have launched in recent times. The striking artwork and mature content mean this isn’t a game for the faint hearted," said a spokesman for There are five featured games, which win the player free spins and multipliers: “Straight to Hell,” “The Hard Goodbye,” “He Never Screams,” “Deadly Little Miho,” and “Just Get Warmed Up.” The games feature the series’ main characters: Hartigan, Nancy, Miho, Marv, Kevin, the Yellow B*stard, and Dwight. The game includes mature content and scenes of violence, nudity, and deprivation.

James Packer Friends At Aspinall's Star May Do b2b With Media Man...

The rumour will is running hot that the good folks at Aspinall's and Star Partners may be looking to soon ink an online b2b deal with Media Man International. An email leak read to the effect "We've heard nothing but good things about Media Man and are looking to do business". All we can see is "Show me the money" and "Too Sweet". Maybe it pays to have shares in Crown Limited after all hey. Other online brands are expected to follow their lead, not to be left behind in the PR or online space in the Asia Pacific and European regions maties. Oh, whispers about a "Mate Casino" too.

Sin Tax To Be Raised In Australia...

Here we go again. More sin tax! Brace yourself for more ads sternly pointing out government failings on everything from plain packaging for cigarettes to poker machines and carbon tax, with advertising figures predicting more lobby groups will turn to ads to push their causes. Following this week's spate of ads on TV and in newspapers attacking plans for plain cigarette packets on the grounds that no one wants to live in a nanny state, many have predicted that there will soon be more such efforts to sway public opinion against planned government policy. The Australian chairman of Grey Group, Paul Gardner, said lobby groups had been encouraged to turn to advertising, rather than more traditional lobbying based on access to politicians, by the success of the anti-mining tax campaign. It's going to be either a taxing or entertaining campaign. Time will tell. Are you a sinner or not? Tell us in the forum, or try your luck on the Sin City online slot game, as found on Media Man International.

Aussie James Packer To Build 3rd Casino In Macau...

JP's Macau casino joint venture plans to build a massive $US2.5 billion ($2.3bn) casino resort...the group's lucky third in the Chinese territory. This will see them look capitalise on surging gaming revenues in the red hot part of the world. Melco Crown Entertainment yesterday signed off on a $US360 million deal to gain control of the Macau Studio City project, an "integrated resort project" on hold since the global financial crisis and in planning for more than 10 years. The firms chief executive, Lawrence Ho, advised the property's theme and demographic target focus would be differentiated from the company's existing Macau property assets, the City of Dreams and the Altira Macau. Construction is due to start early next year and it is believed the partners have no plans for an equity issue to fund the project. "We believe Macau Studio City's existing land grant and previously completed site work will allow us to significantly expedite its construction timetable," Ho told the press yesterday. It will be Melco Crown's second project on Macau's Cotai strip, a vast stretch of reclaimed land situated between the islands of Taipa and Coloane that land based casino developers in Macau, such as Ho and Packer, are promoting as the orient's answer to the Las Vegas strip aka "Sin City". City of Dreams is in Cotai. Last year, Ho said Melco Crown was prepared to build more casino resort developments in Macau and elsewhere in Asia. Packer's Crown holds a 33.4% stake in Melco Crown. The Studio City site is one of the last prime land sites available in Macau for development. It is located at the Lotus Bridge immigration point, making it the virgin resort that tourists encounter via entering Cotai. Before the financial meltdown, Melco Crown had a management arrangement with Studio City's owners to run the casino at the site, but elected to take control of the project after it became troublesome for the owners to properly fund it within the prior structure. Melco Crown is understood to have codenamed the deal Project Eagle. The deal ends 3 long years of delays caused by legal matters and a range of dramas between the Hong Kong and US investors. Studio City was previously owned by a joint venture between Hong Kong-listed entertainment company eSun Holdings and New Cotai Holdings, an entity controlled by funds managed by US firms Silver Point Capital and Oaktree Capital Management. New Cotai Holdings will hold a 40% stake. Melco Crown will pay New Cotai $US100m in 3 instalments over two years. Before the financial crunch, the casino development was to have included a specially designed 4000-seat arena, a 2300-seat theatre, Asia's first "Playboy Mansion" and 4 new classy hotels - a Ritz-Carlton, a W Hotel, a Marriott and the world's first Tang Hotel. Last month, Macau gaming revenues rose 42.4% to a record $US3.03bn, what Vegas casino operators dream of. They were rocketed by the opening of Galaxy Entertainment Group's $US2bn resort development at Cotai, which is nearby to the City of Dreams. "We remain bullish on Macau's prospects and believe high-quality new supply, such as Macau Studio City, will continue to drive incremental demand," Ho said. Media Man has been speaking to property and gaming experts about the Packer - Macau developments, with 95% believing that the latest Packer Macau project with be a "good to great business and investment". Friends, good punting, know your limits and bet with your head, not over it.

Western Australian Man Faces Charges: Adult And My Casino Connection...

Prominent Perth businessman John Kizon and his investment partner Nigel Mansfield face a retrial on insider trading charges after Commonwealth prosecutors won an appeal against their acquittals. In a majority Court of Appeal decision announced in Perth on Thursday, Justices Michael Buss and Michael Murray upheld the appeal, set aside the pair's acquittals and ordered they face a District Court retrial. The retrial will be on 34 criminal conspiracy and insider trading charges in relation to the Perth-based online sex shop in 2002. Prosecutors did not seek a retrial on insider trading charges in relation to the gambling website My Casino. Kizon and Mansfield were acquitted in the District Court in Perth in March last year, Judge John Wisbey concluding there was not enough evidence to support 48 charges against the men. But on Thursday, Justices Buss and Murray found Judge Wisbey had erred in ruling it was necessary for the alleged insider information acted on to be "truthful or a factual reality". In a dissenting judgment, Court of Appeal president Justice Carmel McLure said she would have dismissed the appeal after finding the evidence could not support a finding that the men had "inside" information. The original charges were brought by the Australian Crime Commission in 2004. The prosecution argued the pair possessed market-sensitive information about Adultshop and My Casino and bought and sold shares in those companies to make money. The court was told the pair became aware Adultshop was expected to post a profit of $11 million in the 2002 financial year, up from $3 million the previous year, after its turnover lifted from about $50 million to $111 million. After Thursday's ruling, Kizon told reporters he would challenge the ruling in the High Court. He and Mansfield are due back in court on July 15.

Aristocrat Leisure And Clubs Australia Fire Up Gambling Debate...

The Australian gambling debate continues to roll on, with Aristocrat Leisure being the latest gambling company to weigh in with proposals as to how they think that the problem could be more easily regulated. Many see their proposal as one that is stuffed with self-interest though – including the man heading up the inquiry, MP Andrew Wilkie. The proposals put forward by Aristocrat Leisure encompassed many different points, but the one that was the most talked about was their idea for a “machine based” solution to end the problem of gambling addiction in the country.
This was due to their belief that a monitoring system – an idea muted by the government recently – wouldn’t be achievable by the government’s target of 2012, mainly due to the complexity of the task. In fact, their submission stated that this wouldn’t even be possible by 2014, therefore putting the whole overhaul of the system back by 2 years. The main reason why pro-reform figures see this announcement in a suspicious light is due to the fact that Aristocrat Leisure say they would roll out this system as part of their normal replacement cycle, which means that they would not have to interrupt operations in order to comply with any future regulations. This would obviously save the company huge amounts of money and would therefore ensure that their business remains a viable one through the period of change. In response to this scepticism, Aristocrat Leisure stated that a new pokie games machine retails at about $25,000, whereas implementing a software upgrade would cost them just $3000 per machine. This, they said, means that their suggestion in fact would cost them more to implement – therefore meaning that they have taken a cut in profits in order to assist those with gambling problems. In addition to Aristocrat Leisure weighing in with their argument yesterday, Club Australia also joined the chorus of businesses opposing the methods that the Australian government want to introduce to curb gambling problems. In a long statement they essentially said that the Australian government have underestimated the amount of work and logistics that will need to go in to setting up the system that they have proposed. They also stated that the system will have a hugely detrimental affect on the smaller clubs in Australia, who current only see about $25 worth of profit a day from each machine that they own. This, they say, means that the disputed figure for the amount of money the government thinks a machine will lose per day under new regulations - $1.50 – will actually represent a large percentage of income for these clubs. The final results of these inquiries are still very much in the balance, with both sides seeing significant numbers of support being gained in recent weeks. Stay tuned as the weekly saga continues. "Mr X" (satire) is not ready to give up, not quite yet anyway.

Punters, er readers, stay glued to Media Man reports for more "can't miss" information on Australian pokies, gaming and casino wars.

*Media Man is primarily a media, publicity and internet portal development company. They cover a dozen industry sectors including gaming. Media Man also publishes Media Man News

*The writer owns shares in Crown Limited

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